It has now been about 21 months since voters in Maine approved adult-use marijuana legalization. I last wrote about the Maine recreational marijuana market back in May of this year. Since Gov. Paul LePage’s veto decision was overturned by state lawmakers, recreational marijuana advocates are beginning to see some results. And Maine expects to begin accepting applications soon, some reports hinting in November of this year.

Maine’s medical marijuana program, already operational, is also changing. Gov. LePage was hit with yet another veto. State lawmakers voted to override Republican Governor Paul LePage’s veto of a bill that will allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana to patients for any medical reason.   

Qualifying Conditions and Other Changes

Lawmakers from both parties joined together in the veto vote – with the House voting, 119-23 and the Senate 25-8. Included in the legislation, is the approval of six more MMJ licenses, as well as giving caregivers the opportunity to expand their business. Now, patients can gain access to MMJ without having to submit to a qualifying conditions list. Additionally, caregivers may now have unlimited patients to care for. And local governments themselves now have the power to alter regulations further within their jurisdictions.

So, what is happening with recreational marijuana?

In Maine, even though adult-use cannabis passed, opponents have been successful at delaying implementation. And even some of those who voted for legalization, are indeed open to stores, but not necessarily want to live next door to them. Of course, it has become a case of, well, which town then? A Boston attorney named Jim Smith, recently put the situation that Massachusetts fledgling recreational market is facing this way: “The reality is that the next town over also wants it in the next town over.” Some Maine residents are expressing a similar sentiment.

But Maine’s Market is Gearing Up

Even though the state still hasn’t set a definitive date for accepting recreational licenses, Maine has been working on other cannabis regulations to support its legislation. Maine has taken on the employee/employer relationship. To advocates, the state is reshaping the employment landscape as it pertains to marijuana use.

Feb. 1st of this year was the official start to a law prohibiting employers from terminating (penalizing or refusing to hire) individuals who consume cannabis off-duty and off the employer’s property. Additionally, the law stipulates no marijuana testing can be done on applicants either – unless federally-mandated.

Of all the states that have legalized marijuana either medically or recreationally, Maine is the first state to develop legislation concerning the protection of cannabis users. Employers must pre-approve their drug-testing policies with the Maine Department of Labor. These policies must include:

  • Substances tested
  • Specific positions tested
  • What constitutes a failed test
  • Consequences of failing the test

It’s Not a Free for All, Though

Employers can still establish their own rules regarding use – meaning complete workplace prohibition or permissible use off-duty. And employers who comply with federal marijuana testing are not permitted to adjust their drug policies.

Maine Recreational Marijuana Market Expected to Go Live in 2019

Maine’s adult-use market slowed due to vetoes and lack of legislative action. The licenses that will be available include:

1) Cultivation Facility License

(2) Products Manufacturing Facility License

3) Marijuana Retail Store License

(4) Testing Facility License

The state removed the 5th license available – Social Club operation. It possibly will be available in 2023.

Local Control

Individuals seeking to obtain licenses in the Maine recreational marijuana market should also find it easier to know where exactly to open up facilities and dispensaries. This is because towns in the state have been given greater control over allowing cannabis-based businesses to set up shop. The state won’t approve a license for a particular city unless the city has given its pre-approval. This might seem to be yet another hoop to jump through on the cannabusiness path. But it actually lets cities themselves advertise their more welcoming attitude toward marijuana entrepreneurs.

Maine Might Not be Quite Ready, But We Are

The Maine recreational marijuana market is slowly coming together. The experts at Pinnacle are ready to help you start planning your expansion into Maine. The moment applications are accepted, let us make yours one of the first. Contact us today to get started.